Gov. Joe Manchin speaks Monday during a press conference in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed him for the U.S. Senate. To Manchin's left are U.S. Chamber Vice President Lisa Rickard and W.Va. Chamber President Steve Roberts. (Photo by Chris Dickerson)
CHARLESTON – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Monday endorsed Gov. Joe Manchin's run for the U.S. Senate.
During a press conference at the state Chamber headquarters in the shadow of the state Capitol, leaders from both business groups commended Manchin and his record of supporting state businesses and workers.
"We're endorsing Joe because he understands the economic challenges our country is facing and has a record of supporting policies that allow businesses to create jobs," said Lisa Rickard, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber and president of the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform. "He is an invaluable leader who has a common sense approach to job creation and getting America back on the road to recovery."
"Gov. Manchin has an established record of commitment to improving the business climate in West Virginia," said Steve Roberts, president of the state Chamber. "He has worked to address some of the biggest challenges facing large and small businesses across the state throughout his term as governor.
"Gov. Manchin's experience, accomplishments as governor and proven track record in recruiting new employers to West Virginia help make him the best choice to go to Washington."
Manchin called Monday's Chamber endorsements "very important."
"It's big," he said. "With labor endorsements, it shows everyone that those two groups that, historically, have been apart both realize there is one person who is the best candidate for this job.
"These are people who have worked with me as governor for six years. They don't always agree with all of the decisions. I know they can't do that. But they do agree on the process, and they know that I will bring all sides to the table to come up with the best solution."
If elected to the U.S .Senate, Manchin said Monday that he would be an American first and a West Virginian second.
"We've got to get this country in order first," Manchin said. "If this country does well, I know my state will prosper. There's so much political rhetoric out there right now, but we have to get past that. We need to hear out all sides. That's what is needed in Washington.
"What Washington really needs right now is a healthy dose of West Virginia and the success we've had here."
Both Roberts and Rickard noted some of the achievements made in Manchin's tenure as governor, including:
* Workers' compensation reforms that have reduced costs to employers by nearly 40 percent and made West Virginia's workers' compensation cost one of the most competitive in the nation;
* Insurance reforms that save West Virginia citizens and businesses an estimated $100 million a year;
* Business tax cuts that have already reduced corporate net income tax rate and will completely eliminate the business franchise tax by 2014;
* A business-friendly environment that has led to more than $13 billion in private investments in West Virginia. Roberts said that during the past five years, more than 240 companies have either expanded in or moved to the state;
* Responsible state spending that has resulted in an upgrade to West Virginia's bond rating, saving taxpayers millions each year; and
* An economy that has remained strong with a lower unemployment rate than the national average.
Also noted was that the Cato Institute in 2008 said Manchin enacted the most pro-growth tax reforms of any governor. He was one of only three governors to earn an "A" on Cato's review of fiscal policies in all 50 states.
Manchin, a Democrat who was first elected governor in 2004, faces Republican John Raese in the Nov. 2 general election. The winner will complete the remaining two years of former U.S. Senator Robert Byrd's term.
"From cutting taxes on businesses and workers, to supporting common sense energy policies, Joe has been an independent voice in West Virginia," Rickard said.
The U.S. Chamber's ILR owns The West Virginia Record.